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- アスペクト比 : 1.78:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : いいえ
- 言語 : 日本語
- 製品サイズ : 25 x 2.2 x 18 cm; 168 g
- EAN : 4934569620576
- 監督 : 是枝裕和
- メディア形式 : 色, ドルビー, ワイドスクリーン
- 時間 : 3 時間 2 分
- 発売日 : 2005/3/11
- 出演 : 柳楽優弥, 北浦愛, 木村飛影, 清水萌々子, 韓英恵
- 字幕: : 日本語, 英語
- 販売元 : バンダイビジュアル
- ASIN : B0002PPXQY
- 原産国 : 日本
- ディスク枚数 : 1
柳楽優弥／北浦 愛／木村飛影／清水萌々子／韓英恵／ＹＯＵ／串田和美／岡元夕紀子／平泉 成／加瀬 亮
We first discovered the films of Japan’s new Master of cinema Hirokazu Kore-eda, back in January 2020, with his warm, thoughtful and magical ‘Our Little Sister’(2015). Since then, we have been munching our way through his work, though it is not always as easy to obtain on disc as other Japanese masters such as Kurosawa and Ozu. Ozu, with his tightly-focussed family dramas and sociological comment, has been suggested as a model for Kore-eda. Kore-eda himself draws a closer parallel with British director Ken Loach ~ his socially-aware style and treatment of major social issues, including poverty and homelessness.
Never was that resemblance more evident than in this stunning film from 2004. It was essentially a passion project for Kore-eda, based on a screenplay he originally wrote 15 years before, in the wake of a real-life Japanese cause célèbre. That involved a family of children, each with a different father, who had been abandoned by their mother, as she went to live with her newest boyfriend. They had survived on occasional envelopes of money from her, for over 8 months. Kore-eda had been deeply affected by the story, and wrote his screenplay as a message of support and sympathy to the oldest of the children, a young teenaged boy, who had been the carer for the family.
His film had remained unmade for 15 years, but with a script updated to the 2000s, he began filming in late 2002. Filming, lasting the 9 month duration of the story, was largely in a confined Tokyo apartment, rented and fitted out for the film. The cast is small, with mother and a few smaller parts played by adults, but most of the roles played by children: the 4 family members, two teenaged male friends and one teenaged girl. The performances, no doubt developed in part through the clear trust gained from them by Kore-eda, are quite miraculous. We may see one or two good child actors in a film, but 7! Of whom 4 carry the weight of the narrative, for a 140 minute film! Totally remarkable! Our feeling at the end was that we were quite drained, because we had been right there, in that oppressive, claustrophobic apartment, with those children, the entire time. It is no surprise that 12 year-old Yuya Yagira, who played Akira, the older boy, became the youngest-ever winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s award for Best Actor.
This film is a tough watch. Pink and fluffy, it is not. But the story is totally gripping, despite it’s narrow geographical framing, and the performances are sensational and very moving. And remember, the story is essentially true. 5 utterly compelling Stars.
The look and feel of Nobody Knows points to Koreeda’s background in documentary making, which adds to the film’s sense of authenticity and, ultimately, power. His cast are uniformly excellent, particularly Yuya Yagira’s 12-year old, Akira, (the eldest of the abandoned quartet), but no doubt much of the credit for Yagira’s impressive turn should probably go to Koreeda, for his coaching. The actress You, as the quartet’s irresponsible, and increasingly absent, mother, Keiko, also delivers a flawless turn for what is (obviously) an infuriating character. Despite the film’s predominantly despairing theme, however, Koreeda does not paint an entirely bleak picture of humanity in modern day Japan. As Akira & co.’s plight becomes increasingly desperate, initially suspicious shop-workers step up to display their humanity and Koreeda’s depiction of innocent, ebullient childhood is frequently uplifting (Akira’s stint on the baseball field being a highlight), even if the contrast ultimately increases the sense of tragedy in the children’s plight. Stylistically, Koreeda’s approach to storytelling is relatively simple, although he gives us some nice symbolism to reinforce the latent emotion (e.g. contemplative shots of a washing machine and a nail varnish stain cleaned up by the mother, plus the ultimately tragic suitcase). The naming of the film’s 'hero’ (Akira) and the glimpse of the name ‘Mizoguchi’ may also constitute deliberate cinematic references (homages) from Koreeda.
I would not, however, regard Nobody Knows as entirely flawless. The film’s running time could probably be pruned by around 20 or so minutes and, as viewers of the film, we might question some of Koreeda’s plot points, particularly the fact that no-one reports the children’s plight to the authorities. Even though, via this latter point, Koreeda is effectively giving us a 'worst case scenario’, it can be answered by the film-maker having kept true to the original real-life events. On balance, therefore, given the film’s notable strengths, particularly that of Koreeda’s remarkable handling of his cast, I err on the side of a top rating.
The film opens with a mother Fukushima Keiko (You) and her 12 year old son Akira (Yagiri Yūya) moving into their new Tokyo apartment. Out of two heavy suitcases roll two more kids, the youngest son Shigeru (Kimura Hiei) and youngest daughter Yuki (Shimizu Momoko). A little later the oldest daughter Kyoko (Kitaura Ayu) arrives having been picked up at the nearest rail station by Akira. It transpires that the kids all have different fathers and that their births have not been registered with the authorities. To protect themselves from prying neighbors only Akira is allowed out of the apartment, the other three having to stay quiet and hide. The mother knows that if the authorities find out about them, the kids will be split up possibly forever. Initially she seems well intentioned, but she is young and flighty. She gets a job as a bar hostess and leaves her kids for increasingly long periods of time. One day she says goodbye and gives Akira 50,000 yen (about 250 pounds), saying she will be back for Christmas. She never returns. Eventually Akira traces her to working for a company under a new family name. He realizes she has re-married and has abandoned them. Most of the film is devoted to charting how the kids respond to their plight. At first Akira tries heroically to be the father, shopping, cooking, cleaning, instigating rules and delegating responsibilities. But as the money runs out, the food disappears and the utilities get cut off, the children revert inwards to find their baser animal instincts. I won’t describe what happens thereafter as it would spoil it for you, but rest assured what happens is heart-breaking to the extreme.
If you have read this far, you might think Nobody Knows is an extremely depressing film. Fear not, for this film is no Lord of the Flies. By focusing on the positive qualities of the kids and their untapped potential for enjoying life and seizing the day with their unquenchable optimism, Kore-eda carves out a hugely positive celebration of the minutiae of everyday life which you and I take for granted. Never has an ice cream tasted so good and never has a simple trip to the local park been so liberating. At the same time the director focuses on what the kids need but cannot have to moving effect. Akira wants to go to school and craves friendship with his peers, and in the course of the film he achieves both albeit only in part. Then there is Kyoko who (because her father is a musician) wants to own and play her own piano, but has to make do with a plastic toy. As a father who sometimes has to force his kids to practice before their (very expensive!) piano lessons, my first reaction was to think about showing them this film to make them appreciate more the opportunities they have. Make no mistake this is one of those films which makes you feel lucky to be alive and lucky to be surrounded by your loved ones. In Hollywood hands it would be mired in mushy sentimentality, but Kore-eda’s stoicism and refusal to pander to the feel-good brigade pays off in spades. His approach is simple, subtle and profoundly revealing of the emotions that lay within the hearts of his young cast.
The film’s greatest achievement rests on the effortlessly superb acting of the kids. Kore-eda has a way with youngsters and here he teases out astonishing performances, especially Yagiri Yūya who deservedly took home the best actor prize from Cannes that year. It is perhaps mistaken to talk about ‘performances’ here as when we look at these kids we just believe they are who they are – there are no performances involved. They simply inhabit their roles with astonishing reality. Combined with Kore-eda’s documentary approach this makes for a film of extraordinarily tangible emotional power.
I was tempted to give 5 stars, but I have two slight criticisms. In the first place, at 140 minutes the film is a long haul which seems even longer because of the slow pace of the narrative. I have no problem with slow narratives, but as vital as the performances are and as sensitive as Kore-eda’s treatment is, there is simply not enough here to sustain the running time. Scenes become repetitive and one suspects a good 20 minutes could easily have been shorn without harming the film’s narrative structure. Secondly, I have a problem with the film’s ending. I can’t be specific here without giving the game away, but the whiff of artificial melodrama doesn’t sit with the natural treatment of everything that precedes it. I’m probably being a little harsh here, because on balance this is still a superior film that warrants close attention.
I have no gripes with the quality of this ICA Projects DVD. It is a bare-bones product with no extras at all, not even the booklet that some reviews posted here have suggested comes with it. However, the picture and sound are both top quality with English subtitles properly letter-boxed and highly legible. I notice that this film is also being offered in a cheap box set together with Still Walking, After Life (1998) and Air Doll (2009). That would be the best way to buy it as the other 3 films are all excellent. For those unsure about Kore-eda this cheap single disc release remains a highly recommendable taster.
Inspired by a real-life story of a family of four children (the eldest only 14 years old) who have to cope for long periods for themselves when their mother takes off on extended trips, Kore-eda however makes the film about more than a documentary-like reconstruction of a curious case. Without unnecessary moralising or tabloid-style sensationalism, he tries to imagine how such a situation could be allowed to happen, makes it comprehensible and sympathetic. Finding neighbours intolerant of young children and landlords reluctant to rent apartments to families, the mother has been forced to pretend she doesn't have any young children, keeping them locked up and schooling them herself. The children - most of them being born out of wedlock and - as it becomes clear - to different fathers, essentially then become "invisible" as far as society is concerned.
This alone is a fascinating revelation and when combined with showing how the children cope with everyday life, it makes for an extraordinary film. But the director also does so much more than this, considering the psychological impact their confinement has on the children who have no recourse to a normal childhood through schooling and relationships with friends, getting into the minds of the four children and thereby raising interesting questions about what childhood means. The film achieves this wonderfully through some natural and engaging performances from the young leads, and the director's wonderful use of sunlight through the different seasons. A remarkable film.
The DVD from ICA Projects is basic - there's just the film and nothing else, but the image quality on the dual-layer disc is excellent, the presentation widescreen enhanced, with the original Japanese soundtrack in Dolby Digital stereo. Subtitles are large and unremovable. There are no extra features other than a booklet with a fine essay by the director on the film's origins, which is all you need really.
Buy it, see it, you won't regret it.
Five stars, without a doubt.